Back on draft night, the average Spurs fan rode a roller coaster of emotions. They grieved for the trading of George Hill to Indiana, wondered about the untapped potential of Kawhi Leonard and even giggled when somebody saddled the newly acquired Davis Bertans with the too-comical nickname “The Latvian Durant.”
Few gave much thought to the third player to hit the Spurs’ coffers in the deal. What happened on draft night 2011, however, apparently meant a lot to Erazem Lorbek.
According to a Spanish website, having his rights transferred from Indiana to San Antonio has caused
“With this change, it’s much more interesting to me,” Lorbek, who is currently employed by FC Barcelona, told Mundo Deportivo (). “My hope is to cross the Atlantic to play in the strongest league in the world.”
Lorbek, 27, is a 6-foot-10 forward drafted 46th overall by the Pacers in 2005. By this point, his internal clock is ticking. If he’s going to join the NBA, time is running short. Lorbek has an opt-out in his contract in Spain which would pave the way for him to make a move.
Apparently, Lorbek is serious about this. According to the report above, he has already informed the Slovenian national team he has no intention of playing in this year’s Eurobasket tournament, angering the Slovenian coach.
Of course, Lorbek’s timing couldn’t be worse. The NBA, as you might have heard, is embroiled in a bitter labor dispute that could threaten some or all of the 2011-12 season. In a reversal of the traditional talent pipeline, some NBA players — notably New Jersey All-Star Deron Williams — are contemplating playing overseas for as long as America’s top professional basketball league remains shuttered.
Until the lockout is resolved and the NBA resumes business as usual, it will be difficult to handicap Lorbek’s chances of joining the Spurs next season. It is safe to say, however, that the Spurs traded for Lorbek for a reason and, at age 27, time is running out on his opportunity to make an NBA impact.
It seems like he would at least be in the conversation for the Spurs’ roster at some point in the near term.